Hulda liked being in this part of the temple – the High Priestess' apartments were a tasteful sanctuary of ornate grey oaken paneling and lush carpets from the corner of each separate room to the next.
Recently, some dolt had trodden these with dirty boots, she noticed as she placed her books on the round table in the little study that served as an antechamber to the salon. Doing so, she accidentally knocked the inkwell over, and a tin vase as she jumped to try to keep the stuff from dripping on the carpet by cupping it in her hand. Fussing and turning, she tried to mop up the ink with a wad of her robes, praying to Selûne it was oak apple gall and not real iron gall ink.
She never got the iron gall stain out of her previous robes...
-”Hulda!” the voice of the High Priestess came from the adjacent room. “Is that you?”
Hulda nearly knocked the inkwell over a second time.
-”Yes Lady Meldrys! I've brought the books you requested,” she said in answer, wiping the remainder of the ink off the tabletop and checking the precious tomes for spatters.
-”Would you please come in – I'd like you to greet our visitor.”
Hulda made for the door to the salon, and happened to kick the vase she'd forgotten about so that it spun like a maple fruit and ended up under a cupboard. Just as well – it didn't look like something the High Priestess used a lot, anyway.
Entering the bright salon with the velvet chairs and the silver chandelier that gently rocked in the sudden draft, as the doors to the large balcony were open, Hulda thought she'd found the dolt with the dirty boots.
The slightly grizzly, aging man had a gruff face marked by harsh weather and by worry, and his clothes - but especially his boots - were stained from much travel in the wilderness. He had a scar next to his left temple, just visible between his thinning hair, and the eye on that side seemed to have lost all muscle-tension, as it kept looking at a spot directly above Hulda's head, even as she came nearer to shake his hand in greeting.
-”Hulda Swanmantle,” she said with a half-curtsy, half-bow.
The man grumbled something – his name? - and Hulda saw he had actual tusks, meaning he was orc-blooded.
-”Hroar Hrovatr is a Harper scout,” the Lady Meldrys came to Hulda's aid. “He has traveled through Beorunna's Well a tenday ago, and would like to voice his concerns about a cleric of ours who is stationed there.”
-”But... I don't think anyone of us is up there at the moment,” Hulda said, confused. “Nearly everyone was here for the Moonfire-ritual the night before yesternight, with the exception of our brothers and sisters who went on their pilgrimage to Waterdeep.”
To her continued befuddlement, the High Priestess looked pleased.
-”You see, kind sir? It is as I said – your eyes must have deceived you if you saw a priest of ours in Beorunna's Well,” Meldrys told the Harper, and Hulda braced for the man's reaction at the mention of his eyesight.
To her relief, he only leaned back to cross his legs the other way – putting the other dirty boot right next to the stain the first one had made between the chair and the little table with the refreshments. Hulda saw that Meldrys had noticed, and she started to feel really uncomfortable herself, standing there with this awkward conversation going on. Looking for an escape route, she eyed to the door she came through – and noticed the ink stains on the handle.
Right then, the Harper scout spoke:
-”I'm not sure if that's something to be triumphant about, or even at ease. This may be a self-proclaimed priest you're dealing with, or an outright impostor,” Hroar Hrovatr grumbled around his tusks. “At any rate, he's already recruited several of the town's naive young women for his debatable rituals, causing much outrage among the populace and some really bad publicity for your church.”
Meldrys' expression wasn't quite befitting her earlier smugness.
-”We can't have that, can we,” she said at length. “We'll send one of ours over as soon as we can, to assess the situation and clear things up with the citizens of Beorunna's Well. Selûne's light is the only hope for salvation to the lycanthropes that live in the woods nearby – we cannot risk anyone slandering her name.”
-”I expected nothing less,” Hroar Hrovatr said, and rose from his seat.
Meldrys saw him out.
-”Selûne guide you on your travels,” she wished him good-bye, and the scout grunted a reply of sorts as he went out.
Hulda froze when she saw Meldrys holding the dirty door-handle.
-”Hulda – are you doing anything tomorrow?” the woman asked, returning to the little table to sip her tea. The ink-stained hand was the one holding the saucer.
-”I, err, I – you mean, I don't ink – I don't think so,” Hulda stammered. “Would you like me to go to Beorunna's Well? I can be on my way by noon, if you like.”
-”You're a blessing to our order, Hulda,” Meldrys cooed as she gently urged her out the door. “Don't forget to stock up on wolfsbane when you pass by the infirmary. Let's hope you won't need any.”
-”Yes m'lady,” Hulda was eager to oblige, and she was already halfway the stairs when Meldrys' voice came after:
-”Oh dear, look at your robes. That looks like ink.”
-”I errrr... I think I must have tipped an inkwell. In the scriptorium.”
Meldrys cupped her chin and shook her head.
-”You're incorrigible my dear – I pray your clumsiness won't get you in any trouble when you're on this mission.”
With those words, she went back inside and closed the door behind her – but not before Hulda had caught a glimpse of the goatee-like smudge on the High Priestess' chin.